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Trump Administration Could Deny Green Cards to Legal Immigrants Who Need Public Aid

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Trump Administration Could Deny Green Cards to Legal Immigrants Who Need Public Aid

2019-08-12 19:48:071 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer: Image: Ken Cuccinelli (Image source: Screenshot)

 

It seems at this point that Donald Trump is determined to make life in the United States as difficult as possible for all immigrants, not just those who arrive here illegally. A rule has been adjusted that could now deny green cards and citizenship to legal immigrants who need public assistance,

 

While Trump has been discussing the need to stop undocumented illegal immigrants, his focus appears to actually be on all immigrants both legal and illegal, especially after calling out four congresswomen of color last month. Only one was born outside the U.S., and she came here legally and has been a citizen since she was 17. 

The new policy will be for "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.' It appeared on Monday on the Federal Register's website, to take effect in two months.

 

Those with wealth, education, and English-language skills will have an easier time in the green card process as they redefine what a "public charge" means and who will be under immigration law. 

At a White House briefing, acting director of U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, said the agency is moving to define an existing element of immigration law.

 

"Through the public charge rule, President Trump's administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America," he said. 

All of what Trump has aimed to do appears to impede the process of immigration, both by putting up more physical barriers and by putting further rules in play such as this new policy.

 

Analysts believe this could reduce the family-based legal immigrations to the U.S., especially from Mexico, Central America, and Africa, countries with poorer economies. 

The Trump administration tried similar efforts earlier, such as a "merit-based" overhaul of the visa system, with both Trump and adviser Stephen Miller wanting to reduce immigration at all costs.

 

The new rule will focus on the definition of what it means to be a "public charge," meaning someone who is dependent on the government for benefits." 

The new definition will focus not just on those who are dependent on pubic assistant but anyone who uses a benefit or public aid, including Medicaid, food stamps, or housing assistance.

 

The New York mayor's office and immigration groups believe this has already caused large numbers of legal immigrants to not seek help through these programs, as they're afraid it may prevent them from becoming citizens or even staying in the country. 

Among the factors that could hurt the chances of someone getting a green card are a medical condition, not having enough to money cover medical costs, financial liabilities, having been approved for a public benefit, having a low credit score, not having private health insurance, not having a college degree, not having good English language skills, or having a sponsor who is unlikely to help financially.

 

"With one regulation, they are attempting to scratch two itches: one is penalizing immigrants for using public benefits that they are legally entitled to, and the other is cutting legal immigration in half," said former Obama administration official and immigration consultant Doug Rand. 

"And the way you cut legal immigration in half is by kicking the doors out from the definition of 'likely to become a public charge.' "

 

It's expected that this new rule will bring multiple lawsuits. Marielena Hincapie with the National Immigration Law Center referred to the change in policy as "President Trump's attempts to fundamentally transform our immigration system to favor the wealthy." 

House Democrats have already been trying to block the rule, co-sponsoring a bill to do so while the administration was still developing the policy.

 

With nearly 20 percent of the New York City population relying on SNAP benefits to help feed their families, officials have determined twice as many "eligible noncitizen New Yorkers are either withdrawing from or not enrolling in SNAP than eligible U.S. citizens. 

"While we cannot definitively prove that the public charge proposal has caused these changes to SNAP participation, we identify an important correlation that, reinforced by anecdotal and survey evidence, suggests a chilling effect: eligible immigrant families are avoiding SNAP out of fear of potential immigration consequences," wrote city officials in June.

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